The Tupi of Brazil undertook an enormous territorial expansion more than 2,000 years ago. The word Tupi is applied to a linguistic stock that encompasses approximately 41 languages that spread, several millennia ago, throughout eastern South America (Brazil, Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay, Argentina, Uruguay). Of those 41 languages, the two most frequently mentioned since the arrival of Europeans have been Guarani and Tupinambá. The term Tupi is also used to refer to the speakers of these languages.

Noelli’s paper (1998) included discussion of nineteenth and much of twentieth century research on the Tupi. I do not repeat that information here. Suffice it to say that for more than a century, between 1838 and 1946, hypotheses were developed with historical and ethnographic data and were influenced by theories ranging from degenerationism to racial and geographic determinism to evolutionism. Most theories were based on the historic location of known Tupian people. With the publication of the Handbook of South American Indians in the late 1940s, archaeological information has been interpreted in frameworks of ecological determinism and diffusionism. During the same period, methods of historical linguistics were introduced, especially to identify the relationships among kin languages. As with debates about origins and cultural evolution elsewhere in South America, two of the key figures in the Tupi origins and migration debate were Betty J. Meggers (1963, 1972, 1975, 1976, 1982) and Donald W. Lathrap (1970). PRONAPA (Programa Nacional de Pesquisas Arqueológicas) was very active in Tupi archaeology at the same time, 1965–1970 (e.g., PRONAPA 1970) [Note 1]. It was also in this period that Jose Brochado (1973, 1984; Brochado et al. 1969) worked intensively on Tupi archaeology. Brochado subsequently completed doctoral studies at the University of Illinois in Urbana- Champaign under the mentorship of Lathrap (see Brochado 1984).


Radiocarbon Date Linguistic Data Demographic Growth Archaeological Information Linguistic Family 
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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Francisco Silva Noelli
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratorio de Arqueologia, Etnologia e Etno-HistóriaUniversidade Estadual de MaringáBrazil

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